The fight between Apple and Epic Games, centered around Fortnite and Apple's 30% cut of all App Store transactions, is heating up quickly. Not long after Apple decided to remove Fortnite from the iOS App Store, Epic filed suit against Apple in California—and, in the filing, Epic says it would launch its own app storefront on iOS were it not for Apple's current policies.
This new claim can be found on page 5 under section 16 of the Nature of the Action in the just-filed complaint. Emphasis USgamer's:
Epic—and Fortnite’s users—are directly harmed by Apple's anticompetitive conduct. But for Apple's illegal restraints, Epic would provide a competing app store on iOS devices, which would allow iOS users to download apps in an innovative, curated store and would provide users the choice to use Epic's or another third-party's in-app payment processing tool.
Epic goes on to say that because it has to distribute Fortnite on iOS exclusively through the App Store and use Apple's payment services, it "is forced, like so many other developers," to charge more for in-app purchases to cover Apple's 30% fee. This position, which Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has also echoed in complaints about Google's 30% fee for Android app purchases, is framed here in a manner similar to how Epic has positioned the Epic Games Store relative to Valve's Steam with respect to platform fees on PC and Mac.
Although Epic does not go on say it hopes to release the Games Store for iOS, it does indeed mention its own PC/Mac storefront a short while later in an attempt to further cast Apple's mobile strategy as anti-competitive:
Indeed, on Macs, Epic distributes Fortnite through its own storefront, which competes with other third-party storefronts available to Mac users. App developers are free to use Apple’s payment processing services, the payment processing services of third parties, or the developers’ own payment processing service; users are offered their choice of different payment processing options (e.g., PayPal, Amazon, and Apple). The result is that consumers and developers alike have choices, competition is thriving, prices drop, and innovation is enhanced.
Apple's decision to remove Fortnite from iOS comes in the wake of Epic updating the game on both iOS and Android to include a cheaper in-app purchasing option to circumvent the platform holders' respective fees. It appears that Epic expected Apple to remove Fortnite from the store today and was prepared to file suit. At the time of writing, Fortnite is still available on Android.
This dust-up comes mere days after a heated exchange of statements between Apple and Microsoft. Next month, Microsoft will officially launch Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud streaming on Android—as for iOS, Microsoft says Apple is the only mobile platform holder to "deny consumers from cloud gaming." This all comes while Apple is also feeling the pressure of an App Store antitrust case in the U.S. and two antitrust investigations in Europe.
At 4 p.m. ET, Epic premiered a short video inside of Fortnite Party Royale parodying Apple's own famous advertisement based on 1984, which was a jab at IBM's market dominance in the '80s. Epic also references the 1984 ad in its lawsuit, and does not mince words: "Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation."